Friday, 16 October 2015

Autumn in the Peak

It's mid October, well into autumn, and the high pressure we have enjoyed for several weeks is holding on and is even blocking the jet stream, diverting it north and south of UK. Sunshine is a rarity however, but so far there has been no rain to speak of; just 'anticyclonic gloom' as cloud from adjacent fronts gets caught up in the circulation of the high pressure system.

I decided to take advantage of the weather today and have another ride on the W800 up into the Peak District. Winter is knocking on the door and there may not be many more opportunities this year.

I rode out through Prestbury and Bollington, up Blaze Hill, over the Whaley Bridge road and on to Nab End.

Please click on any picture for a larger image.

Nab End, with Cat's Tor on the horizon 

Lamaload Reservoir is looking a bit low. It was built between 1958 and 1964 to provide drinking water for Macclesfield. 

Past the Cat & Fiddle and onto Axe Edge moor, I encountered to first light drizzle of the day. Here is Axe Edge, looking towards Hollinsclough and the Dragon's Back Hills in the murky distance.

Brief stop in Longnor to buy a sandwich for lunch (from the village store, not the pub, which is still closed at this time!). The drizzle had stopped by now but one sensed it was not far away. 

The delightful ridge-top road from Longnor, between the valleys of the Dove and the Manifold (one of my favorites in the White Peak), brought me to Hulme End. Turning left at the 'Manifold Inn' (formerly the 'Light Railway Hotel') through Ecton took me into the Manifold Valley. For a while the road follows the track bed of the former Leek & Manifold Valley Light Railway (which ran from Hulme End to Waterhouses), including passing through this tunnel at Swainsby.

The south portal of Swainsby Tunnel 

Looking south from Swainsby Tunnel down the Manifold Valley. The minor road follows the railway track bed for a couple of miles south of the tunnel before leaving the valley near Wetton, at which point I turned right for the steep climb out of the valley to Butterton. 

From Butterton via Onecote I came to the ancient Morridge ridge way road where I turned north for a few miles to the view point overlooking The Roaches and Hen Cloud, but there wasn't much of a view today. On earlier rides this year this has been a pleasant place to stop for lunch and admire the view, but today as well as not much of a view there was a bite to the east wind and some rain in the air, so I decided to press on and have my lunch somewhere lower and (hopefully) warmer.

I descended off the high Peak through Thorncliffe down to the Tittesworth Reservoir Visitor Centre where, in more sheltered conditions, I could enjoy my picnic lunch. The water level at Tittesworth is pretty low as well, as one might expect at this time of year. Like Lamaload, it was built to supply drinking water, this time to Leek, Stoke on Trent and surrounding area.

After lunch I continued around the oddly-named hill of 'Gun' to the Leek road south of Rushton Spencer, which I crossed to pass over the shoulder of Bosley Cloud and down into Congleton. The delightful road through Hulme Walfield, Clonterbrook, Gleadsmoss, and Lower Withington brought me to the giant radio telescope at Jodrell Bank. The rain was back by now and felt a bit more serious, so it was good to get under cover at Chelford petrol station to fill the tank (this lovely W800 returns around 60 mpg on this sort of ride).

Four miles later I was home. Where there had been no rain at all!


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